Last week, in a very welcome move, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reversed the Norton/Leavitt agreement on the Utah lands while reaffirming his department’s right to preserve other public lands in their natural state for future generations.
…The question now — and it’s a big one — is whether the bureau will exercise its restored authority. Mr. Salazar has instructed it to give environmental values “high priority” when deciding how lands are to be used. But his policy does not require the bureau to conduct a fresh inventory of all its public lands or to designate new areas for interim protections.
…This leaves plenty of room for mischief from an agency that historically has been sympathetic to oil and gas companies and other commercial interests. The agency cannot be left to its own devices. If Mr. Salazar is really determined to protect this country’s wild lands, he must take the lead.